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Seven Muslim Scholars on How to Survive Ramadan and Make The Most of It

The blessed month is upon us but are you dreading the long days without food or drink and the sleep disruption? You’re not alone. This timely seminar has loads of tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan.

Talks by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf and Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Imam Zaid Shakir

Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin (Q&A)

 

Cover photo by yeowatzup.

Why Married Couples Struggle and How to Respond Successfully

Why Married Couples Struggle and How to Respond Successfully. A Muslim Perspective from Ustadha Shireen Ahmed & Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The closest relationship a person will ever experience in their lifetime is with their spouse. In this SeekersHub seminar, we learn how to cultivate this union to the fullest, how to overcome common hurdles, and how to maintain a high degree of moral conduct and excellent character.

For more info and FREE registration for our upcoming seminars – wherever you are in the world, visit SeekersHub Toronto.

Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.

Learn To Live: A 30 Day Program in God’s Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation

God’s Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation

God’s Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation: SeekersHub Toronto is offering a 30-day intensive course – also available live online – which will reconnect you with the Qur’an and make you fall in love with Allah Most High’s miraculous revelation again.

Shaykh-Walead-Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad

This year, the Ramadan program is being organized around the theme of “Learn to Live”, which will see us explore Mercy during the first 10 days, Forgiveness during the second 10 days, and Salvation in the last 10 days.
During each third of the month we will focus on what the Qur’an teaches us on each of these matters with a focus on concepts, stories and practical spiritual action.

Teaching the course will be  Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Shaykh Muhammad Mendes, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, and others.
Daily programs will include tarawih prayers at the beautiful new SeekersHub Toronto, with master of Qur’anic recitation Qari Hafidh Abdullah Francis from Cape Town, South Africa.

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Shaykh Muhammad Mendes (left)

You are also welcome to join us for a communal iftar or even sponsor a meal for a 100+ people. Just email [email protected] for details.
Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming weeks, and make SeekersHub Toronto #YourRamadanHub.

VIDEO: Activism & Social Change – Prophetic Principles for Transformative Community Service

Activism Social Change - September-Seminar_2015

What is the purpose of serving humanity? Why has Allah made us responsible for ensuring the preservation of good for other people? What are the foundations which lead to fruitful activism and service? Speaking from many years of experience, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin offer deep insight into the pitfalls of many young students and activists, and how these can be addressed so that one’s work is more blessed and closer to the Prophetic way.

Listen to the podcasts and watch the videos from this recent seminar at SeekersHub Toronto.

 

About the Activism & Social Change seminar:

Want to save the world? Given the troubling nature of events around the globe, many of us are turning to activism in order to bring on positive social change. Learn how to root your activism in Prophetic tradition, make a positive impact on society and uphold excellence in your concern for others.

In this timely and important seminar Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore what activism and service mean and share practical guidelines and keys of how to express one’s concerns and serve with excellence.

All SeekersHub classes and programming are free. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

The Roots of Fruitful Service, by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed explains the foundations which lead to fruitful activism and service. Speaking from many years of experience, she offers deep insight into the pitfalls of many young students and activists, and how these can be addressed so that one’s work is more blessed and closer to the Prophetic way.

This podcast is from a recent seminar at SeekersHub Toronto, on Activism & Social Change.

About the Activism & Social Change seminar:

Want to save the world? Given the troubling nature of events around the globe, many of us are turning to activism in order to bring on positive social change. Learn how to root your activism in Prophetic tradition, make a positive impact on society and uphold excellence in your concern for others.

In this timely and important seminar Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore what activism and service mean and share practical guidelines and keys of how to express one’s concerns and serve with excellence.

All SeekersHub classes and programming are free. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge” by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

“Br. Dawoud, I have to ask you a question…” I said without looking up.  I had to gather up the courage, and really force myself to ask.  I knew I needed to know, and it was time to stop pretending that I already knew the answer.

“This is a really dumb question, but… you all keep mentioning the ‘Khulafa ar-Rashideen’ from time to time and their example in our meetings, but I actually have no idea who or what that is.”

There.

I had finally voiced one of many questions I had as a young university student, who had recently joined the Muslim Students Association for the first time.  I had grown up in a small town, and honestly speaking there were not many practicing Muslims around during my teenage years.  My mother had used to try and take us to weekend ‘Islamic’ classes, however my understand of Islam was still very sparse and fragmented.

There is no such thing as a dumb question

Br. Dawoud looked back at with me with concern, and then gently said, “Sister Shireen, I want to tell you something.  There is no such thing as a dumb question.  If you don’t know what something is, all you have to do is ask.  The only ‘dumb’ question is the one that is never asked.”  He told me the Khulafa ar-Rashideen are the rightly guided caliphs, which refer to Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all).

I would later learn that there are only two kinds of students who are unable to grow and benefit in their Islamic studies, one being the student who is too shy to ask their questions, and the second being a person who doesn’t ask their question out of arrogance (i.e. by not admitting to what they don’t know).

My experience that day left a lasting impression on me. Years later, I would remember how Br. Dawoud answered my question, and how he encouraged me to keep seeking knowledge.  To always remember that I can do better, and not to be shy to ask what I wanted to know.  It had always bothered me that I couldn’t answer basic questions about Islam that I wished I could answer.  I had finally met other Muslims who I was really impressed by at university, people who were really humble and sincere, who would encourage me time and time again to seek knowledge and strive for improvement.

Two years later, I was married, and my husband and I had decided to fly to Syria to pursue seeking sacred knowledge.  It was a very thrilling experience for me, to finally make up for years of knowledge that were just missing.  To fill a certain void in my life, as the little fragmented knowledge I had was now growing rapidly on a daily basis.  I would learn from the teachers who patiently taught us Arabic, and then alhamdulillah was able to move on to higher studies in the Arabic language itself.

Every single teacher declined money

What always amazed me about the experience was that every single teacher I studied with would decline money when I tried to pay them for their time.  And we’re talking about many Syrian teachers.  They would always have the same response, that when I return to Canada, they wanted me to teach others and they would take their reward from that.  That answer would always amaze me as someone growing up in the West where “nothing is for free”.  They had such good character, humility, and sincere concern for my studies with no ulterior motive.  It would really drive me to work much harder, as it was impossible to show up to class not doing your homework when the teacher was that selfless.

 

We spent several years overseas, and then returned to Canada.  Shortly after, my husband (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani) founded SeekersGuidance, which is now known as SeekersHub, an online website dedicated to teaching students in the West their religion.  To answer their many questions through the Answers Service.  To offer online courses, so that students could download classes with a qualified instructor and ask the questions they have.

The service initially started out with students having to pay for the courses.  I had been encouraging Shaykh Faraz to consider offering a certain segment of courses for free so that students could at least obtain their fard ‘ayn (personally obligatory knowledge) without charge.  I still remember the day when he told me that he decided to make the courses for free.  I was happy he had taken my advice, until he clarified he meant take any class for free.

“But how will we survive?” I asked him. 

At that point we had three young children, and he was talking about giving up the main salary that was paying our bills.  He explained that there are many people out there in the world who cannot afford to pay for classes, and there are many others who are able to donate to support causes like this.  To spread knowledge on a global level, so that attaining knowledge was not limited to one’s income level.  Historically, students would not pay for classes, rather teachers would be supported so that they could teach without worrying about providing for their families.

This new turn of events, which would later be called Knowledge Without Barriers, also resonated with me as it was the way of my teachers in Syria, to teach purely based on seeking the good for another person.  That perhaps the reward of helping that person to grow in their religion and become a better person is sufficient as a reward.  There is a way to donate financially so that supporters can keep the movement of spreading knowledge at no cost going, and so far it has been working for us as a model.

Your past does not have to dictate your future 

I want to sincerely advise students, especially the sisters, to now seek knowledge.  I have given you a glimpse of what it was like to go from someone who barely knew anything about the religion, to becoming a student of knowledge.  I understand that there are many sisters out there who still have a sparse, fragmented understanding of religion, because our parents are only capable of giving us what knowledge they know.  I was there, so I know what that feels like.  Many of our parents have not had an opportunity to study, but they did their best in raising us.  Your past does not have to dictate your future.

By just spending even an hour or two weekly listening to classes, you can steadily grow in understanding in a variety of Islamic subjects.  You can even choose which subjects you feel weakest in, or consult our staff as to what courses are best suited for you given your history.  I know for a lot of mothers, attending classes is very difficult because their children are not able to sit quietly for public classes.  However, with an online learning platform, even mothers with energetic young kids can regularly attend classes, so that in turn they are better able to educate their own children, which are the next generation.

The remedy for ignorance is to spread sound Islamic knowledge

Seeking knowledge helps one to become a better Muslim, to seek Allah Most High sincerely, to turn towards Him with the core of your being in prayer, and to become a better decision maker when weighing one’s actions with what will benefit one most in the Afterlife.  Especially in this day and age, we see many atrocities being done in the name of religion – when in reality they are being committed out of lack of knowledge about the religion.  Part of the remedy for ignorance is to spread sound Islamic knowledge from teachers who are qualified to teach, who have a chain of transmission from their teachers back to the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him).

We pray that these efforts are accepted, and that students across the globe can benefit by being able to study.  That they in turn are able to become contributors to their own communities.  Now no one needs to feel shy about asking questions about Islam, even if it is “who are the Khulafa ar-Rashideen?”

 

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed is the Course Development Manager at SeekersHub. There are over 35 courses on offer across all major disciplines, for beginner and advanced students – find out more here.

Video: Finding a spouse, maintaining strong marriages

It isn’t easy finding the right spouse and maintaining a loving, peaceful, and long-lasting relationship. In this engaging seminar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadha Shireen Ahmed share practical knowledge and real life scenarios on:

Seekers hub Toronto - Marriage Seminar– Choosing a spouse.
– Involving your family appropriately.
– Understanding the marriage contract.
– The overall spiritual nature of marriage.
– The qualities required to maintain a healthy marriage.

SeekersHub Toronto is a unique learning foundation that connects transformative knowledge and spirituality with actionable community service and social engagement. It is open and welcoming to individuals of all ages, religious beliefs, and walks of life–with equally diverse programs and activities offered at no cost.

Consider joining a class with SeekersHub Toronto. All classes are FREE.

Help us continue to provide Knowledge Without Barriers through your ongoing monthly support or a one-time donation.

Full House at Muslim Marriage Seminar

Seekers hub Toronto - Marriage Seminar“Full house with two of our teachers, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Ustadha Shireen Fatima Ahmed at SeekersHub Toronto’s Marriage Seminar”, on 14th February 2015. Photo credit: Sadia Qaderi.

Resources for Seekers:
Understanding Marriage – A conversation with Imam Zaid Shakir
Lasting Love: What Makes for Successful Marriage?
When Love is Not Enough
Getting Married Seminar Helped make Marriage A Reality for SeekersGuidance Student
The Intentions of Marriage – Shaykh Ali bin Abu Bakr al-Sakran
Is Marriage Sinful? – Faraz Rabbani
Women, Debts, and Marriage

 

Fostering Love and Sympathy Between Siblings – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

The following is a sample of what you can learn taking SeekersHub Global’s Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children course. The Course starts September 1st, 2014, so register soon!

A couple words of advice:Fostering love and sympathy between siblings may seem like an uphill battle at times, however this forum

little-boy-praying

is very key in how your children learn to behave in close relationships. Emphasizing having adab at home will avoid many common instigators for problems, and it help them to develop good character traits for the long term, when they insha Allah start their own families.

  • Really inculcate the meaning of the hadith “you love for your brother what you love for yourself” at every opportunity. One’s foremost instinct should be to always prefer others to oneself. Explain that this is a continuous opportunity to earn reward from Allah Most High, and that these seemingly “small deeds” can add up to vast amounts on the Day of Judgment (insha Allah). This also creates a bond of closeness between the people who practice this, especially when such deeds are reciprocated. On top of this, one can teach the formal niceties of how one would prefer others to oneself. An example that comes to mind is if you make waffles (or a similar treat) at home, kids usually fight for who gets the first one… teach them to rather try and give it to the others first (and they will actually get the most reward). It is very sweet to hear children argue “please, you go first” and “No, I prefer you go first.” (when they actually both really want that thing being served). Another example would be when the children race to the car, instead of shoving each other aside to get in first, to say “please you go ahead” or “ladies first” and opening the door for their sister. All of this done with the intention of seeking the reward of Allah Most High. (And then thanking Allah Most High for giving you the good deed.)
  • Promote empathy. Teach children to help fulfill the needs of the others around them. If one sibling is crying, they should make attempts to comfort them, not tune them out or ignore them (Even if they had nothing to do with causing the sadness or hurt feelings). Children are often the best comforters, as they can quickly direct the upset child to focus on something else (like another toy, or entice them into a new game). If they have caused the upset, they need to apologize and “make it right”. A good expression is to say, “I’m sorry about what I did. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” And to sit with the upset one until they feel better. This in turn can often be reciprocated between siblings, such that when the other one is upset, the other siblings will notice and try and do something about it.
  • Clamp down on derogatory jokes, insults or “put downs” in your home. A firm rule should be that this is not allowed in any form, and there should be repercussions to such uncouth behavior. A book I really like on this subject is “Words Are Not for Hurting” by Elizabeth Verdick. As a parent, we need to be firm about this, and not “pretend not to hear” and “let the kids work this out on their own”. They need to understand what does it mean to have adab and respect for one’s own family members. If they don’t give respect, they certainly won’t receive it. If you notice a particular child doing this more than the others, I would take him/ her aside and talk to them about it. Maybe take them out for a treat and have a heart to heart about why it is important to you that they not hurt the feelings of others. Mention the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) as the best of examples and how he treated others. You may also want to find out if perhaps this child is being bullied in some way at school or other social forum, that they feel a need to inflict such pain on others. They should also understand what backbiting is, and how/why this is forbidden in the Shariah. Children should be taught to protect the honor and dignity of their own siblings, in front of others, but especially amongst themselves.
  • Don’t compare kids. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. A child that is weak in one area will not feel elevated or motivated by hearing “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” However, if one child does very well in a certain area, you can praise their achievement before the others (with no hint of comparison) so that they in turn try and work harder. Generally all children have various strengths, so there are many opportunities to praise each child for their various achievements at different times. This way they can learn from one another. Specifically comparing children can lead to jealously, and bitter feelings between siblings – which in the long term will work against achieving family harmony.
  • Model resolving conflict. Teach children what to do when they can’t agree on something. This is an ESSENTIAL lifelong skill that they need to master, and the best forum for learning this is with their own siblings. Conflict resolution needs to be respectful, productive, and not aggressive. Shouting, throwing, hitting, insulting are simply ineffective ways of resolving conflict. Teach child the stoplight of behavior which says to stop, calm down, say the problem and how you feel, think of all of the best (and realistic) ways to resolve the problem, then together choose the best plan and move forward. (If it doesn’t end up working, try the model again.) This model helps children learn long term, how to deal with differences between themselves as others. This is a very helpful model for adults as well to help them resolve their differences with adab. It also reduces tension in the household, when children learn how to properly resolve differences of opinion between themselves, rather than running to their parents because “so and so did X to me”.
  • Don’t always tattle. Also teach them how to give their siblings nasiha kindly. Sometimes children will come and “tattle” that for example “so and so left their toys on the ground” or “didn’t finish their cereal”. Teach them how they can rather be proactive about it by kindly advising the sibling “to pick up their toys” or “put their cereal in the fridge for later or check with everyone if someone else can finish it” etc… i.e. help the person his/herself to resolve the problem rather than running to a parent to complain. This is especially true for the children who are ages 7+, as they have the ability to help problem solve in the best way, and help their sibling, rather than always trying to turn them in to higher authority (i.e. their parents).

Abu Hurairah, may Allah Most High be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, (peace & blessings be upon him), said:

“Do not be envious of one another; do not artificially inflate prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not shun one another; and do not undercut one another in business transactions; and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah.

A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. Piety is here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honor.”

[Muslim]

Umm Umar (Shireen Ahmed)
Associate Instructor – Islamic Parenting Course
www.SeekersGuidance.org

SeekersGuidance Appalachian Retreat 2010 – Overview, Slideshow, and Testimonials

As-salamu alaikum,

For those of you who were unable to attend the first ever SeekersGuidance Appalachian Retreat held in Coker Creek, TN from June 25 to June 30, we’ve uploaded the picture slideshow to youtube. You can view the slideshow below:

Retreat a Success!

img_6959 Alhamdulillah, the first ever SeekersGuidance Retreat was a success. Over 100 people came from all over the US and Canada to attend the program. Speakers included Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Omar Qureshi, Ustadh Usama Canon, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, and Ustadha Zaynab Ansari. Two surprises guest speakers showed up: Shaykh Abdal Haqq Mendes from Atlanta and Shaykh Muhammad al-Shareef from Nashville.

Attendees attended beneficial programs covering basic theology, law, spirituality, and adab. They also went white water rafting, horse back riding, mountain biking, wall climbing, zip lining, had campfire nasheeds while eating smores, attended a Mawlid with the scholars lead by Nader Khan, and ascended Buck Bald Summit for a final talk by Hafiz Noman Zaheer.

SeekersGuidance Expresses Its Gratitude to the Knoxville Community

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SeekersGuidance would like to thank the wonderful community of Knoxville for helping put this retreat together. We’d also like to specifically thank Hafiz Noman Zaheer of the Ibn Masud School and Saimah Iman for being wonderful organizers. Without their commitment to excellence, this retreat would not have been possible. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) preserve them and their community and grant them all tawfeeq and tayseer. Ameen!

Testimonials About the Retreat

img_5763” The retreat was absolutely wonderful, mashAllah! A life changing experience. Hopefully there will be another one in the near future, inshAllah! My prayers are with those who organized it and helped in making it happen.” (Claudia Khalaf, Tennessee)

“The retreat was amazing SubhanAllah! May Allah bless everyone involved in setting this up and making it happen and all of our scholars and their families that were a part of this. this should become an annual event!” (Nermean Abdelrazek , Toronto)

“[I] had an indescribable time at the Seekers Guidance Appalachian Retreat. May God bless our scholars and teachers, as well as the retreat organizers who worked tirelessly. And may I always be blessed to be in the company of people like those I was with this weekend.” (David Hunsicker, Washington DC)

Want to bring a SeekersGuidance Retreat to Your Community?

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SeekersGuidance is looking to organize three retreats per year in different parts of the US. If you are interested in bringing a retreat to your community, please e-mail [email protected]